Students encouraged to enter Newark Optimist Club’s annual essay contest

All Tri-City-area students age 19 and younger are invited to enter the annual Newark Optimist Club Essay Contest. Contest entry is free, said Denise Fullerton, the club’s contest chairwoman.

This year’s contest topic is, “How Can I Help My Friends Realize their Value?”

The contest’s winner will be awarded a cash prize of $200, the second-place contestant will receive $125 and $75 will go to the student finishing third, Fullerton said. The first-place finisher will advance to the Optimist International’s Pacific Central District competition, where the winner will receive a $2,500 college scholarship.

The 2012 Newark Optimist Club winner, Ella Gunady, finished second in that regional competition, which includes contestants from Northern California, Northern Nevada and Utah.

Contest application forms can be found online at www.optimist.org. Completed essays can be submitted by emailing promsyrslf@sbcglobal.net, or by mailing an envelope to Newark Optimist Club, P.O. Box 402, Newark, CA 94560.

All essays must be received by Feb. 16. Winners will be announced Feb. 22.

For more information, call 510-793-6074.


National speech and debate competition to be held at Union City school

I always hated speaking in public and, in many ways, I still do. So, I always marvel at people who can speak in front of huge crowds and do it without preparing their remarks. It’s probably why I went into writing. Anyway, a ‘forensics’ (please, no CSI jokes) competition featuring student debate teams  is being held at Logan High this weekend. Here’s more info:

Students from around the nation will compete this weekend at the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational Forensics Tournament, a speech and debate contest held in Union City.

Logan High’s forensics team, led by squad director Tommie Lindsey, will welcome more than 1,800 students from 91 schools from as far away as Wyoming and Mississippi. They will compete Friday through Sunday in contests showcasing their public speaking skills.

Community members interested in judging are asked to call 510-589-3519 or email florence.graham@att.net. Training is available for first-time judges at the school.

Logan High is at 1800 H St. in Union City. For more information about the school’s forensics team or the yearly competition, visit www.jlhsforensics.org.


SAVE to ‘Open Doors’ in free outreach event Thursday in Union City

A free event Thursday aims to to reach out to victims of domestic violence and educate the community about the issue.

Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments, also known as SAVE, is sponsoring the event, called “Open Doors.” It will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Union City, said Tina Fernandez, a SAVE employee.

The exact location is provided upon registration.

To register to attend the “Open Doors” event, call 510-574-2266 or email tina@save-dv.org. For more information about SAVE, visit www.save-dv.org.

For more of the story, click here.


Alameda County Water District launches social media strategy, redesigns website

I’m working on a story about the Alameda County Water District’s increased rates, which take effect Feb. 1. Until then, here’s a brief on the District’s foray into social media …

The Alameda County Water District has redesigned its website and launched a social media strategy, starting accounts on Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks.

“By reinventing our online presence, we hope to make it easier for our customers to do business with us,” said Walt Wadlow, the district’s general manager.

Agency officials said their redesigned website will allow customers to view their accounts online, report complaints and ask questions, and sign up for email and text-message notifications.

They also plan to use Facebook and Twitter to post information about water quality, upcoming public meetings, project updates and water supply emergencies.

For more of the story, click here.


Chinese-American history exhibit being held at Fremont Library

An exhibit and lecture series, “Remembering 1882” that focuses on a federal law of that year that aimed to prevent Chinese immigration to the United States, has opened at the Fremont Public Library.

The exhibit is open from 1 to 9 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. The library is closed Sundays. The exhibit concludes Feb. 28.

The library is at 2400 Stevenson Blvd. For more information, call 510-745-1424.

For more of the story, click here.


Issues with Comments

It appears we’re having some technical difficulties with comments. I’ve been contacted by a few readers/commenters who are asking why their comments disappeared. I haven’t deleted or disapproved a comment in about three months, so I’m not sure why they disappeared or where they’ve gone. I’ll check in with our tech staff and find out if we have any bugs.

In the meantime, please feel free to keep commenting and/or contact me with any questions.



Whole Foods groundbreaking in Fremont scheduled Jan. 25

A press release from the Fremont Chamber of Commerce (I plan to do a story on this within a few days):

The Fremont Chamber of Commerce and property owner Robson Homes will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Whole Foods Market, to be built on the Northwest corner of Mowry Avenue and Paseo Padre Parkway, on Friday, January 25 at 2:00 p.m.

Whole Foods Market representatives and elected officials will be on hand to participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking and group photo.

Construction for the 52,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market and retail development was approved by Fremont City Council in July 2012.  The grading permit was issued in October 2012.  Whole Foods Market is expected to open in late 2013.

Whole Foods Market has been long-awaited and reflects the city’s changing demographics. “The addition of Whole Foods Market validates Fremont’s attractive environment for lifestyle retail, and will serve as an anchor for Fremont’s new Downtown,” said Bill Harrison, Mayor of Fremont.

“The Fremont Chamber of Commerce is delighted and encouraged to see this type of economic development in Fremont,” said Cindy Bonior, Fremont Chamber of Commerce. “We know that Fremont residents have long expressed a desire to have a Whole Foods Market in our community and we are sure that it will be a draw for the region as well.”

Mark Robson, CEO of Robson Homes, added “Whole Foods Market not only offers high-quality natural and organic foods, but also will serve as a catalyst for other great retailers to come to the community.”

“We are thrilled to soon be a part of the wonderful Fremont community,” said Rob Twyman, Whole Foods Market Regional President, Northern California and Reno Region. “We are looking forward to working with the city and its residents during the coming months to both build a great store and to connect with and support this community via our various community partnership programs.”

More information on Downtown Fremont can be found at:  www.Fremont.gov/Downtown


Fremont hospital guest arrested after he refuses to leave, threatens to shoot guards

While I was getting settled into my chair at Fremont City Hall for Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, police were arriving at Washington Township Hospital to take a man into custody for … well … I’ll let our Breaking News Team reporter Natalie Alund tell you the rest:

FREMONT — A disgruntled hospital guest who refused to leave a Bay Area hospital after he learned visiting hours were over and threatened to shoot security guards was behind bars Wednesday.

Najibullah Noory, 39, of Union City was arrested on suspicion of making terrorist threats inside Washington Hospital Tuesday night, said police Spokeswoman Geneva Bosques.

Noory had arrived at the hospital to visit a family member, but was told by security that visitation hours had ended, police said. He reportedly became upset and threatened to shoot the security guards with a handgun.

For more of the story, click here.



Fremont named No. 5 Best Run City in America

As said before, I’m never sure how much emphasis should be given to those Top 10 cities lists. If your city lands on them, then I suppose it’s a point of pride. If you are a city employee, then I suppose the shameless promotion of said lists is a point of occupational survival. So, it’s not surprising that Fremont officials have wasted no time in touting the fact that Fremont was ranked No. 5 nationwide on a “Best Run Cities List” compiled by a website called “24/7 Wall Street.”

I’m not exceedingly familiar with the site, but it contains other vital lists, including “Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink” and “America’s Worst Companies to Work For” — two topics on which I might be considered an expert.

Now, where were we …? Oh, right, Fremont is No. 5 Best Run City in the nation says the site, saying the city excels in the categories of credit ratings, poverty (or lack thereof), education, crime, unemployment and regional gross domestic product.

By the way, Fremont’s ranking placed them between Seattle (6th) and Lincoln, Neb. (4th). San Francisco finished 11th and … (drumroll, please) … the top-ranked city was Plano, Texas.

There was a “Worst-Run Cities” list, too, but no Bay Area cities made the list. Stockton (sure, it’s close to us but I don’t consider that Bay Area, do you?) was ranked No. 3, while Modesto and Fresno were No. 6 and No.  7, respectively, and Sacramento finished 18th on the civic rankings of infamy.


Fremont man fatally shot by son attacked children with nail-covered bat

Story by colleagues Natalie Alund and Erin Ivie:

FREMONT — Officials have identified 48-year-old David Weatherton as the man fatally shot by his son last week in what police are calling an act of self-defense, saying the man attacked two of his children with a baseball bat covered in nails.

Police are calling Weatherton’s death a justifiable homicide, saying that the son shot the father Jan. 10 to protect himself and his brother — as the older man attacked them with the bat.

A preliminary investigation by police and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office revealed that Weatherton’s 27-year-old son, who lived in the home in the 39500 block of Pardee Court, shot him one time in the chest with a handgun, killing him in self-defense during the dispute, police spokeswoman Geneva Bosques said.

For more of the story, click here.